Can the poem "The Bangle Sellers" be explained as typecasting the Indian women in limiting it to the traditional categorization of weak and delicate?I need the deep explanation or meaning of "The...

Can the poem "The Bangle Sellers" be explained as typecasting the Indian women in limiting it to the traditional categorization of weak and delicate?

I need the deep explanation or meaning of "The Bangle Sellers."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one can take a couple of viewpoints on Naidu's poem "The Bangle Sellers."  On first glance, the poem does espouse traditional values of the role of women in Indian society.  This is undeniably present in the second stanza when the purpose of bangles is for a "maiden's wrist", and "meet for a bride on her bridal morn," indicating that a woman's primary purpose is for marriage.  The closing stanza also substantiates this, confirmed with the lines of:  And cradled fair sons on her faithful breast,/And serves her household in fruitful pride,/And worships the gods at her husband's side."  These lines indicate the traditional fulfillment of a socially dictated notion of women's roles.

However, such a reading might neglect to take into the account the complexities contained within both poet and poem.  Sarojini Naidu is a rarity amongst Indian women in that she was fluent in English and able to compose poetry in accordance to English and Hindustan versions of rhyme and meter.  At the time of "The Bangle Sellers," Naidu was active in Nationalist politics in Bengal and was very active in the literary community and political movements at the time.  Seeing that she represented a form of woman that broke out of the traditional and normative roles of women, Naidu would have been quite vocal in articulating the condition of women in India at the time.  In a political climate that was fighting for national independence, Naidu had a unique advantage of being a voice for both Indians and Women in a time where the latter was not being voiced in favor of the former.  Understanding all of this, we can see that perhaps the meaning of the poem "The Bangle Sellers" can be more than what is its literal meaning.  Perhaps, Naidu is giving voice to a group that has not been represented in either Indian society or literature.  Certainly, the topic of women, and the subject matter of economically challenged women were issues that were not receiving much in way of attention.  We can presume that the bangle sellers that are being spoken of in the poem are not on the wealthy end of Indian society.  Rather, these women struggle to earn a living in selling their bangles.  When the first stanza asks, "Who will buy," it seems to be indicating that these women's voices are silent, and in the absence of their representation, they must do what is within their power in order to earn some notion of wages.  Naidu speaks for them and in giving them a voice, she might be suggesting that India cannot be free unless it speaks for women such as "the bangle sellers."  When any component of a nation's voices are silent, then that nation is far from recognizing a vision of freedom.  Indeed, Naidu might be presenting a vision that typifies these women, but the larger issue might be that she is trying to authentically and accurately depict their condition so that it arouses the moral and spiritual consciousness of change.  It would be unrealistic if her depiction of the bangle sellers was that they led a Revolution against male dominated interests, for this is not a position of power that bangle sellers enjoyed in India at the time.  Rather, given Naidu's heightened sense of education, political activism, and striving for representative voice, she is rendering of picture of what is so that it can be changed to what can be.

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